John Grant: Celebrating Seniors on Senior Citizens Day

There are‭ ‬54‭ ‬million Americans ages‭ ‬65‭ ‬and older.‭ ‬Senior citizens make up‭ ‬20 percent‭ ‬of the population,‭ ‬the fastest growing segment of society.‭ ‬Historically,‭ ‬older folks across the world have been valued for their vast knowledge,‭ ‬life experiences,‭ ‬and contributions to civilization.‭

In‭ ‬1988,‭ ‬President Ronald Reagan and Congress agreed and‭ the president ‬signed Proclamation‭ ‬5847‭ ‬declaring Aug.‭ ‬21,‭ ‬1988 as‭ ‬the first National Senior Citizens Day.‭ ‬The special day would serve as a reminder to recognize older‭ ‬folks for their‭ ‬wisdom and‭ ‬achievements.

On that day, Regan proclaimed,‭ “‬For all they have achieved throughout life and for all they continue to accomplish,‭ ‬we owe older citizens our thanks and a heartfelt salute.‭ ‬We can best demonstrate our gratitude and esteem by making sure that our communities are good places in which to mature and grow older‭ — ‬places in which older people can participate to the fullest and can find the encouragement,‭ ‬acceptance,‭ ‬assistance,‭ ‬and services they need to continue to lead lives of independence and dignity.‭”‬

That’s exactly the work we do at Seniors Across America.‭ ‬We advocate for seniors in Florida and across the nation.‭ ‬As a former state representative and state senator,‭ ‬for years I helped shape legislation protecting our seniors and I still work with legislators to make sure they pass laws with seniors in mind and laws that support their needs.

Florida has the highest percentage of senior citizens‭ (‬21 percent‭) ‬in the U.S. and that figure is supposed to reach‭ ‬25 percent‭ ‬in the next few years.‭ ‬Florida has four of the top‭ ‬10‭ ‬cities with the highest senior population‭ – ‬Clearwater,‭ ‬Hialeah,‭ ‬Cape Coral‭ ‬and Miami.‭

Gov. Ron DeSantis has routinely recognized the contributions our seniors bring to the state,‭ ‬earmarking‭ ‬$51‭ ‬million for Alzheimer’s and dementia funding and making sure seniors were first to get COVID vaccines.‭ ‬The governor is also working to improve the homeowner’s insurance crisis that is having a huge impact on seniors with fixed incomes.

Seniors help keep the economy going.‭ ‬In fact,‭ ‬they hold‭ ‬$1.6‭ ‬trillion of the nation’s spending power.‭ ‬They‭ ‬account for‭ ‬60 percent‭ ‬of all healthcare spending and‭ ‬buy‭ ‬74 percent‭ ‬of all prescription drugs.‭ ‬Seniors spend‭ ‬$7‭ ‬billion online each year, too.

They pay taxes used to fund both federal government and local government programs.‭ ‬They‭ ‬donate their time and money to charity.‭ ‬In fact,‭ ‬seniors‭ ‬are the most charitable‭ ‬age group.‭ ‬Also,‭ ‬they make pretty good babysitters and offer friendship and emotional support to young and old.

So,‭ ‬on National Senior Citizens Day,‭ ‬Aug.‭ ‬21,‭ ‬celebrate a senior or two.‭ ‬Spend the day with one,‭ ‬especially if they live alone.‭ ‬And thank them for all they have done for you and for America.‭

John Grant, a former state representative and state senator, an estate planning attorney, and a member of the National Senior Citizen Hall of Fame, has spent much of his career working on behalf of seniors. John is continuing the advocacy work by heading Seniors Across America to continue speaking up for our elderly population.

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